Canada's Defence Minister is confronting those NATO countries with troops deployed in relatively stable parts of Afghanistan — including Germany, France, Spain and Italy — saying they must lift the restrictions that prevent their soldiers from taking on the more dangerous tasks being shouldered by Canadians.
It's a problem that one former Canadian military leader says threatens the future of the 57-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization — an alliance founded on the principle that an attack against one of its members is an attack against all.
Canadian troops are paying the ultimate price with a frequency that has caused many at home to question Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson, killed in a roadside bomb explosion this weekend, was the 40th Canadian soldier to die in the conflict.
But some of the large European countries with troops in the safer northern and western regions will not allow their soldiers to move into the danger zones when they are needed, even on a temporary basis. And some are not permitted to fight at night.
Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Sunday that he has raised Canada's concerns about those restrictions — called caveats — with the countries that have imposed them. Although he did not name them directly, it was clear Mr. O'Connor was referring primarily to Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
If you want to see the modern peacekeeping ethos at work, look no further than our Continental allies. Their forces are essentially acting as neutral policemen, holding down already secure areas while the diplomats and aid teams do their work. They get the easier duty (not easy duty, to be fair) and the credit while we fight the battles and get the blame for "aggravating" the situation.
This is what the loyal opposition thinks is the proper Canadian tradition: sitting back and letting someone else fight for us.
Looks like our allies will be always be there when they need us.
Source: Globe and Mail